2012, Jan 16th, Linux.conf.au: “Developing accessible web applications – how hard can it be?”

Presentation with Alice Boxhall


This talk will introduce some of the background any developer creating a web application should have when considering accessibility.

There are many simple, but important things that we can do when developing Web applications that will have a massive impact on their accessibility. At the same time, they help us make our Web pages more navigable and usable.

The same techniques which will make a banking application easier to use for a blind user will also benefit someone accessing the site using a mobile phone or tablet PC. An email application with keyboard shortcuts will be more usable for both motor impaired users, and power users who prefer to avoid switching to the mouse. Multimedia applications with captions may be used by people who are deaf or simply situationally unable to play audio.

We will cover:

  • The tools and techniques people with visual impairments use to interact with, navigate through and consume web pages on different platforms
  • Some key techniques to improve the accessibility of rich, Javascript-heavy web applications, including tools to assist in accessibility testing
  • The systems that take a snippet of HTML from the Web page through the browser accessibility APIs to screen readers and braille devices

The latest accessibility-related developments in HTML5, in particular around multimedia elements.

We’ll also take an example of an existing Web application and show some key approaches to make it accessible.

Key technologies covered: ORCA, NVDA, JAWS, VoiceOver, ChromeVox, ChromeShades, WAI-ARIA, accessible forms, captions, audio descriptions, IAccessible2, UIAutomation, ATK/AT-API, NSAccessible, MSAA


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